The Search for Roots

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The Search for Roots
First edition
AuthorPrimo Levi
Original titleLa ricerca delle radici
TranslatorPeter Forbes
Cover artistM. C. Escher
Sphere Spirals, 1958[1]
PublisherEinaudi (Italian)
Allen Lane (English)
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Paperback)

The Search for Roots: A Personal Anthology is a compilation of thirty pieces of prose and poetry selected by Italian-Jewish author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi as part of an abortive project by his original Italian publisher Einaudi to identify the texts which most influenced major Italian writers.


  1. "The Just Man Oppressed by Injustice": "The Book of Job", The Bible
  2. "A Man of No Account": Homer, New Coasts and Poseidon's Son, The Odyssey
  3. "Why are Animals Beautiful?": Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
  4. "To See Atoms": Sir William Bragg, Concerning the Nature of Things
  5. "The Pact with the Mammoths": Joseph-Henri Rosny, La Guerre du Feu
  6. "The Hobbies": Giuseppe Parini, "The Day"
  7. "A Deadly Nip": Carlo Porta, "Olter Desgrazzi de Giovannin Bongee"
  8. "Dystopia": Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
  9. "A Testing Time": Joseph Conrad, "Youth"
  10. "The Words of the Father": Ludwig Gattermann, Laboratory Methods of Organic Chemistry
  11. "Better to Write of Laughter Than Tears": François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
  12. "A Different Way of Saying 'I'": Thomas Mann, Joseph and His Brothers#The Tales of Jacob
  13. "The Romance of Technology": Roger Vercel, Tug-Boat
  14. "The Dark Well of the Human Spirit": Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  15. "Survivors in the Sahara": Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars
  16. "The Curious Merchant": Marco Polo, The Travels
  17. "The Poet-Researcher": Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe
  18. "The Jew on Horseback": Isaac Babel, Collected Stories
  19. "An Irrepressible Quibbler": Sholem Aleichem, Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories
  20. "Pity Hidden beneath Laughter": Giuseppe Belli, The Sonnets
  21. "Why We are Not Happy": Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness
  22. "We are the Aliens": Fredric Brown, "Sentry"
  23. "The Measure of All Things": ASTM D 1382 - 55 T, American Society for Testing Materials
  24. "Urchin Death": Stefano D'Arrigo, Horcynus Orca
  25. "TV According to Leonardo": Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible
  26. "Before and after the Crime": T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
  27. "Death Fugue": Paul Celan, Poems of Paul Celan
  28. "Tonie the Winterer": Mario Rigoni Stern, The Story of Tönle
  29. "Trying to Understand": Hermann Langbein, Menschen in Auschwitz
  30. "We are Alone": Kip S. Thorne, The Search for Black Holes